We all know that New Year’s resolutions come and go as if they were written in the wind. It’s not that we don’t take them seriously when we create them. It’s just that changing our habits can be hard, despite our best intentions to follow through.
For the last few years, I haven’t made New Year’s resolutions. Historically I’ve found them really hard. They never stuck for very long – a few weeks at best – and I would end up feeling as if I’d failed. For me, setting resolutions on 1st January felt tokenistic. I now know that I hadn’t worked out a solid why for the resolutions, nor planned how I would achieve my goals.
These days I like to incorporate any changes that I want into my life as I need to or want to – irrespective of the month of the year. For example, in mid-April last year my older daughter convinced me to go to the gym and do weight training with her. She’d been super disciplined for over a year, transforming her little frame into a stronger and more Amazonian one. I admired her discipline and focus. At that time we were on holidays together, and I was fully aware she’d been seducing my ego with comments like “you’re strong mumma” or “you’ll take to it really well as you already train”.
I felt flattered despite both of us knowing how manipulative she was being. She kept dropping little hints about me getting a trainer and us weight training together on our return. She fed my ego spectacularly. I tentatively agreed to sign up to a gym. It took a little while to translate as another part of my ego – the sabotaging part – kicked in to prevent me going. My ego created stories of how busy I was, how I don’t like gyms, how I do enough already, how it’s expensive, and the best story of all was that I should start in 8 months’ time in the Christmas break.
As a species we don’t like pain and certainly struggle with self-induced pain, which going to the gym to do strength training is. My ego knew that a commitment like that would require my mind to be strong enough to stay the distance, that time would need to be set aside, as would some finances. My sabotaging ego was busy creating stories to keep me out of the gym.
It took me until the end of May to firm up my why. Quite simply, my why was that I wanted to become stronger, and sitting around making up more ego-based sabotaging stories was not going to help me achieve my goal. I set up the sessions and off I went. After 3 weeks I felt things were going really well. I felt pleased with myself honouring my commitment, feeling a little stronger already, and developing a rhythm in the training.
Then the Delta variant showed up in my local council. I was in Queensland and needed to make a late night, last-minute dash back over the NSW border, so I wasn’t forced into a 14-day quarantine with Annastacia. We were the first council declared a hotspot and a week later were in lockdown.
What surprised me was how relieved I was to stop my gym training. Wow that was quick! Wasn’t I proud of myself showing up for three weeks? How quickly that evaporated as I shot off a text to my trainer telling him that we would need to reconvene down the track. Phew!!! It was just wonderful to have such a legitimate excuse to not go. It wasn’t me bailing, or even worse, failing. It was the pandemic’s fault.
Within a few days though I felt the pull of my original why. I’d lose my gains that I’d started to make and would need to start all over again in the months ahead. How would I become strong mumma without the sessions? I knew I would never do it by myself. I contacted my trainer and we set up in the park near my home. We’ve been doing this ever since.
Does it get easier to go to my sessions? Not for me. My ego makes excuses nearly every session. It wants to sabotage me because it would rather do anything else than weight training. But I don’t let it. I show up because my why won’t be answered unless I go. What helps me turn up is by asking myself one question: What would my best self do? My resolve no longer blows away in the wind, as I hear myself say “It’s time to get ready now”.
When you’re faced with your sabotaging ego, just ask yourself:
What would my best self do?
How would my best self respond?
What action would my best self take?
This will make it very clear that the sabotaging ego isn’t working in the interests of your best self, but more like the Wizard of Oz creating drama and stories to hide behind because he doesn’t want to face his emotional pain.
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